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Sunday, February 22


Please read the text on the right about the definition on students success. Give it some thought and vote on all three polls. Email the link to your friends at HCC and ask them to vote as well. Write on the possible answers you have chosen. What does "student success" mean to you and why? Put some extra effort into this and you will get extra credit for this post!

Sunday, February 15

License to parent

While last week the US press was busy reporting on the Octuplet mother, the British press was buzzing with the story of a 13 year-old boy who became a father. Alfie Patten, was 12 when the baby was conceived (his girlfriend, Chantelle Steadman, was 15) and was quoted as saying “it would be good to have a baby…I didn't think about how we would afford it. ... I didn't know what it would be like to be a dad. I will be good, though, and care for it." Chantelle, told the newspapers that they wanted to "prove to everyone" that they could give Maisie a "great future" and also expressed her commitment to stay in school.

Former Conservative party leader Iain Duncan Smith, who runs the Centre for Social Justice think tank, described the birth as another case of "broken Britain" where "Anything goes…It's not being accusative; it's about pointing out the complete collapse in some parts of society of any sense of what's right and wrong… There is no opprobrium any more about behavior, and quite often, children witness behavior that's aggressive, violent, rude and sexual. It's as if no one is saying this is wrong." The Times reported that during the last ten years more than 40 other boys younger than 14 had fathered children. At the same time Tony Kerridge, a health specialist of Marie Stopes International, spoke of the need for better education and added that "We have got the social aspect of young girls in the UK seeing having a baby as a route to getting their own place."

And thus, some commentators started discussing the licensing thesis, advanced by Hugh LaFollette, a philosophy professor at East Tennessee State University, who called for the adoption of a parenting license through administering competence tests. You can't become a parent unless you pass certain competence tests. If you do become a parent without asking for a license, you will have to take these tests after the birth of the child, and if you fail, the child will be taken from you until you improve. LaFollette believes that although such testing may not be accurate and may prove unjust to some prospective parents, the benefits should outweigh the costs. Naturally, many people objected: “People have a right to having children, as they have the right to free speech and religion.” LaFollette answered that freedom of speech does not make slander acceptable nor does freedom of religion make human sacrifice legal.

Peg Tittle, professor of applied ethics put it as follows: “"We already license pilots, salesmen, scuba divers, plumbers, electricians, teachers, veterinarians, cab drivers, soil testers and television repairmen. ... Are our TV sets and toilets more important to us than our children?.. Then again, wait a minute -- we have set a bar for parents: adoptive/foster parents. Those would-be parents have to prove their competence. Why do we cling to the irrational belief that biological parents are automatically competent -- in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary? We have, without justification, a double standard.”

Pierre Lemieux attacked the concept. He wrote: “It is not clear if, in LaFollette's scheme, a license would be required before conceiving a child, or only for keeping and rearing the baby. LaFollette claims that enforcement problems are not insurmountable. ‘We might not punish parents at all,’ he adds, ‘we might just remove the children and put them up for adoption.’ Of course, laws are ultimately enforced by armed men, and scenes similar to agents with fully automatic weapons seizing Elian Gonzalez would be repeated. Usually, though, parents would let a social worker ‘peacefully’ take their children away because they know that they have no chance against the SWAT team. So, with a few exceptions, the tyranny would be soft and quiet -- tyranny with an invisible hand.”

What do you think? Do we need a license for parenthood or is it a form of tyranny?

Sunday, February 8

With the rising cost of health care, should age play a factor?

By JoNel Aleccia
Health writer

At 102, Thelma Vette likes to whiz around her Littleton, Colo., retirement center in an electric wheelchair, bright red and outfitted with a joystick.

She certainly can walk if she wants to, and often does, thanks to the total knee replacement surgery she had two years ago, when she was merely 100...

Read the rest at here

The article poses this question:"In a country where health care costs are fast outpacing the ability to pay, and where it’s feared that the federal Medicare program could fail within a decade, should doctors perform surgery on the elderly just because they can? Or are limited resources better reserved for younger people who will benefit longer?"

What do you think?

Sunday, February 1

The doctrine of alimony in today's society

Alimony (not to be confused with child support) is an established doctrine in divorce cases, designed to maintain the standard of living of a dependent spouse at levels maintained during the marriage. The ideological basis has been that marriage is a social and economic contract between two people whose obligations do not end with a divorce. The same ideological basis has been applied to couples who simply have lived together. The most famous case, that of the late Lee Marvin led to the adoption of the term “palimony.” When the famous Hollywood actor split with his live-in partner Michelle after 6 years of co-habitation, the court awarded her $104,000 for "rehabilitation purposes" but denied her community property claim for one-half of the $3.6 million which Marvin had earned during that period. Later, the decision was reversed, but in the meantime it had created new grounds for questioning the concept of “alimony” or “palimony” according to which the primary wage-earner should be obliged to maintain the standard of living of the other partner.

In the past, the law benefited mostly women as they were the dependent spouse but as women have been involved in the work force far more intensely than in the past and since often they are the prime wage–earners, the alimony doctrine has hit them as hard as it has hit men. Now that it has, we have started hearing all sorts of complains about the unfairness of the doctrine. In the Forbes article Women Increasingly Paying Alimony we read the story of Kim Shamsky, a 47-year-old business owner who pays her ex, a 65-year-old retired Major League Baseball player, thousands per month in temporary spousal support (they don’t have any kids). It looks like that she built her business on her own without his assistance. She is so frustrated that she has started printing T-shirts with the word “PRENUP” in the front.

The percentage of alimony recipients who are male has risen to 3.6% from 2001-2006 from 2.4%, in the previous five-year period, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That percentage is likely to rise even more given that more and more primary wage-earners are female. In 2005 wives out earned their husbands in 33% of all families, up from 28.2% the decade before.

The alimony doctrine has come under attack, most often when women have to foot the bill. Controversy has also arisen over the way alimony is implemented. We have rehabilitative alimony which lasts until the receiving spouse is either financially independent or enters into a cohabiting relationship with another person. But we also have lifetime alimony that has led many spouses complain that their ex is simply freeloading on money they have not earned.

Recently the story of Dr. Richard Batista has attracted media attention. While married, he donated a kidney to his wife. Now that they are getting divorced, he demands $1.5 million in compensation for the kidney. Or as he said in a Larry King interview, he wants the court to co-assess the donated organ when the judge decides on alimony payments. One suspects that he has resorted to that demand to lower the potential alimony payment to his ex (given that he is a successful surgeon).

So the question is: Would you demand alimony from your ex if he/she were the prime wage earner? (Do not confuse it with child support, the two doctrines are totally different).